ALPHONSUS RODRIGUEZ (not to be confounded with his canonized namesake, a Jesuit laybrother) was born at Valladolid in 1526, entered the Society of Jesus in 1546, and died 20 February, 1616. But for one visit to Rome, where he sat in the Fifth General Congregation of the Society, he spent his whole life in Spain, teaching Moral Theology, governing a College as Rector, acting as Master of Novices and Spiritual Father and composing this work. It came out in three parts, all which appeared together in 1609. Of its composition he tells us himself: "It being the custom in our Society for an Exhortation to be addressed to the Community at least every fortnight, and I having been engaged in that office for more than forty years, addressing as well the novices as their Seniors in Religion, I have gathered together much matter which my Superiors thought it would be for the service of God for me to revise and put in order."
The first complete
English translation came out in 1699. The anonymous translator has recently been identified as Sir John Warner, S.J., Bart. Father Warner, most unhappily, overlooking the original Spanish, translated the French version of Regnier des Marais. Des Marais took considerable liberties with the text in putting the somewhat rugged Spanish into an elegant Louis Quatorze garb. His loose renderings, and more besides, passed into the English translation. Corrections were made in the Kilkenny edition of 1809; but never to this day has the baleful influence of Des Marais been wholly eliminated. It has cost the present translator a world of toil and trouble. In my veneration for the quaint old seventeenth century version, still read amongst us, I endeavoured to base my work upon that, instead of doing what I was ultimately forced to do, translating straight from the Spanish. The translation has been revised throughout by a native Spaniard, who is also a competent English scholar. To him I return my hearty thanks. I have borne in mind, and beg my reader to bear in mind, that I am a Translator only, and not an Editor.
It has been Rodriguez's good fortune in our day, laudari a laudato viro
. Writing to the Heads of Religious Orders on the training of their young religious, His Holiness Pius XI. says, 19 March, 1924 : "Most useful to read through and study will be the writings of St. Bernard, and of the Seraphic Doctor St. Bonaventure, as also of Alphonsus Rodriguez. So far from the virtue and efficacy of these works having failed and become exhausted by lapse of time, it seems to have grown and increased" (Acta Ap. Sedis, vol. 16, p. 142). The temptation has been great to correct or explain here and there some of the forced or even untenable applications of Holy Scripture, and some of the stories which are historically inaccurate. On reflection however we prefer to leave them as they are; they profess to be but illustrations of the lessons he desires to teach. Some day we may see an historico-critical edition of this classic work; for the Ejercicio de Perfeccion y Virtudes Cristianas
is a classic; and we present it as Rodriguez wrote it, our one object being to produce an English translation as accurate as possible.
It is presumed that no one will read Treatise xxiii. on Manifestation of Conscience, in ignorance of the new Canon Law, Canon 530 [1917 Code].
In references to the Psalms, since they are generally so short, only the number of the Psalm, as, found in the Vulgate, has been given.
Joseph Rickaby, S.J.Easter
-------Alonso (Alphonsus) Rodriguez
in the Catholic Encyclopedia (1913).Joseph Rickaby
in the Wikipedia.Alonso Rodriguez' Ejercicio: A Neglected Classic
by John Patrick Donnelly, S.J. (1980), via JSTOR.